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There’s A Simple Solution To This Santa Cruz Grad Students Strike

A very simple solution and one that would be impeccably feminist in its effects as well:

Across university campuses in California on Friday, students and faculty members marched, chanted and waved signs in support of the graduate students at the University of Santa Cruz who have been waging a months-long strike for a cost-of-living-adjustment amid soaring rents.

But despite that widespread support, many of those same Santa Cruz graduate students were readying themselves for the possibility of losing their teaching jobs and being forced to drop out of school.

Since December, 233 graduate student instructors and teaching assistants have refused to submit nearly 12,000 grades from the fall quarter. And as of this month, the strike as expanded to include all teaching and grading duties, with research assistants refusing to do additional work.

The students are striking for a $1,412-a-month cost-of-living-adjustment, something they say they desperately need amid the towering rents in Santa Cruz and the growing housing crisis in California.

Currently a PhD program at Santa Cruz takes 6 to 7 years. One at Cambridge – the English one and not notably thought of as a worse qualification – takes 3. So, the solution is that Santa Cruz should raise its productivity to that level of Cambridge and halve the time it takes to gain a PhD.

We can see that it’s possible to do this. So, why not?

That would halve the pressure upon housing from grad students, each one being there for half the time, and thus lower rents in Santa Cruz. Job done.

The feminism part – US academia is grossly, unfairly, biased against women.

Consider the career path. College at 18, four year course to a first degree. Then 7 years to a PhD. Then, if it’s going to happen at all, tenure track and that takes another 7 years. This puts our newly minted and secure professor at 36 years of age. Exactly when fertility begins to fall off that cliff.

To the extent that it is the bright people who go into academia (not true of the education or grievance studies faculty but still, let’s assume) we’ve just implemented a eugenic policy against the clever people having children.

We’d probably do rather better by 3 year first degrees, 3 year PhDs and then on to the job market at 24 or 25. It would certainly be much fairer for the women who wish to pursue academic careers, why, they might even gain tenure by 30, about the average age of primagravidae across the population.

And anyone who thinks that you couldn’t pull 50% of the “education” out of an American university education without increasing the quality thereof just hasn’t been paying attention.

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Hector Drummond
1 year ago

>Currently a PhD program at Santa Cruz takes 6 to 7 years.

Where does this come from? American PhDs normally take 3-4 years full-time, like British ones.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Worstall

Yes, someone in my year at Oxford went to Stanford for a PhD (maths) and it took him 7 (maybe 8) years. You’re expected to pay your way by doing quite a lot of teaching, which eats into research time – more so than in the UK.

Hector Drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Worstall

The PhDs are pretty much the same length. It’s just that most American PhD programs require you to do a coursework Masters first if you don’t already have one (as well as doing a lot of teaching for them, which slows things down a bit, although British grad students often also do a fair bit of teaching as well). Most British places don’t require a Masters to do a PhD, that’s why the PhDs seem quicker, although an increasing number of British Unis now require you to do a one-year coursework Masters in Research Methods (or something similar) first, which… Read more »

Mr Womby
Mr Womby
1 year ago

But you just know they’ll pull the wrong 50%.

Chester Draws
Chester Draws
1 year ago

My daughter did a 4 year Honours degree and is on well over the median wage. She is 21. Of course, she did do a degree in a subject where people pay well for good grades. No-one needs a PhD. It’s all vanity. It doesn’t make you any smarter, and it advances your knowledge in one tiny, tiny area. PhDs should be what University types do *after* they get tenure. (Or, like my brother-in-law, you get paid by your employer to do your PhD. It was basically a trial program for them — he was good, so they hired him.… Read more »

john77
john77
1 year ago
Reply to  Chester Draws

Having deliberately chosen my post-grad course to avoid a DPhil, I cannot be accused of talking my own book when I say that *some* people need a DPhil/PhD. These are the people, such as my late father, who are going to advance the frontiers of knowledge to the benefit of mankind. If you had said that “few people need a PhD” I should have agreed with you. FYI my son completed his MMath at 21, my father completed his first post-grad degree at 21, having taken a course (Chemistry at Oxford) that required four years for an Honours degree [OK… Read more »

Chester Draws
Chester Draws
1 year ago
Reply to  john77

The PhD should be a reward for great research, rather than the other way round. It should be undertaken by those who work in a field, rather than an entry into it.

At present it is largely a measure of who is prepared to put their life on hold.

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